Gannon University’s Erie Technology Incubator Celebrates ‘Graduation’ of Acoustic Sheep
Posted: July 26, 2016
Celebrating the accomplishments of graduates is an everyday
thing at Gannon University-when those graduates are people. On
Wednesday, July 27, a celebration honored a different type of
graduate: a very successful company.
That company is Erie-based AcousticSheep, LLC, maker of wearable
headphones for sleeping and running and a company nurtured at
Gannon University's Erie Technology Incubator (ETI).
Launched in 2007 by co-founders Wei-Shin Lai, M.D. and her
husband, Jason Wolfe, who assembled their first SleepPhones®
prototype at their kitchen table. The company relocated to Erie in
2014 and began its relationship with ETI shortly thereafter.
In 2015, the success of the company's SleepPhones® and
RunPhones® product lines enabled the rapidly growing global
business to surpass $4 million in sales, and sales for 2016 are on
track to exceed this figure. Employment has grown to 17 full-time
and seven part-time employees (an increase of 10 full-time
positions in the past year), and the company has won numerous
regional, national and international awards for quality and
innovation. Dr. Lai, the AcousticSheep's CEO, was also this year's
EY Entrepreneur of the Year in western Pennsylvania and West
Virginia, a distinction received by Ernst & Young, the global
assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services firm. In
addition, she was named the U.S. Small Business Administration's
Pennsylvania Small Business Person of the Year in 2015.
Dr. Lai is quick to acknowledge the role that ETI has played in
her recent success. "Having arrived in Erie just two years ago,
being part of the Erie Technology Incubator has firmly cemented us
in the business community very quickly," she said. "We are so
fortunate to continue learning from the most dynamic group of
businesses and entrepreneurial support network in the entire
ETI's hallmark as the only technology incubator in the Northwest
Pennsylvania region is its commitment to mentoring and providing
strategic guidance to its members and Jeff Parnell, the
organization's executive director, was eager to begin working with
the co-founders after their first meeting. He is also quick to
share his enthusiasm and congratulations to the team.
"All of us who have been privileged to work with AcousticSheep
marvel at their continued success," said Parnell. "Their numerous
achievements are a testament to the power of hard work, innovative
thinking and a real willingness to be mentored and coached.
Wei-Shin and Jason are always eager to learn, and our mentor team
truly enjoyed serving them."
Wolfe, who serves as the company's chief technology officer,
reiterated this point. "We really appreciate the support and the
fantastic counsel they've given us, and are proud to now join the
ranks of ETI graduates," said Wolfe.
Since 2008, ETI member companies have created 128 new jobs and
raised $31 million in investment capital, and is itself achieving
significant growth in its membership. In the past three years, ETI
has accelerated its growth from 13 members to 30.
"We have assembled an outstanding, highly motivated group of
entrepreneurs here at ETI, and our staff and mentors appreciate the
opportunity to work with such a diverse group of innovative
thinkers," said Parnell. "Wei-Shin and her team are examples of
what can happen when ideas, passion, energy and a 'can-do' spirit
converge, and the Gannon community is proud to extend our heartfelt
congratulations for their success."